Kat," Hale groaned, then fell back onto the pillows.Ally Carter
"Funny, I didn't hear a doorbell."
"I let myself in; hope that's okay."
Hale smiled. "Or the alarm."
She stepped inside, tossed a pocket-size bag of tools onto the bed.
"You're due for an upgrade."
Hale propped himself against the antique headboard and squinted up at her.
"She returns." He crossed his arms across his bare chest. "You know, I could be naked in here.
Do you understand any of this?" he said, pointing to the lines and symbols that covered the massive screens.Ally Carter
"Some people understand the value of an education."
Hale stretched and crossed his legs, the settled his arm around Kat's shoulders.
"That's sweet, Kat. Maybe later I'll buy you a university. And an ice cream."
"I'd settle for the ice cream."
You know" - Hale's breath was warm against Kat's ear in the chilly ballroom- "I don't know that both of us really have to be here...."Ally Carter
The slide changed. While hundreds of mathematicians waited with baited breath, the boy beside Kat whispered,
"I could go make some calls... check on some things..."
"Play some blackjack?"
"Well, when in Rome..."
"Rome is tomorrow, babe," Kat reminded him.
He nodded. "Right.
Gabrielle, Hale?" Kat smacked his shoulder. "It wasn't bad enough that you got me kicked out of school, but you had to use her to help you? Gabrielle!" "I can hear you," her cousin sang beside her. Hale looked at Gabrielle and gestured at Kat. "She's adorable when she's jealous." Kat kicked his shin.Ally Carter
You know you're smarter than all of them, right?" Hale said flatly.Ally Carter
"In fact, if you wanted to PROVE it..."
He glanced at the blackjack tables.
Simon shook his head. "I don't count cards, Hale."
"Don't?" Hale smiled. "Or won't? You know, technically, it's not illegal."
"But it's frowned upon."
Sweat beaded at Simon's brow.
He sounded like someone had just suggested he swim after eating... run with scissors...
"It is SERIOUSLY frowned upon.
So instead she settled on, "Did my father put you up to this?"Ally Carter
Hale exhaled a quick laugh and shook his head. "He hasn't returned my calls since Barcelona." He leaned closer and whispered, "I think he might still be mad at me."
"Yeah, well, that makes two of us."
"Hey," Hale snapped. "We all agreed that that monkey seemed perfectly well trained at the time.
Kat turned back to Hale. "The Mary Poppins?"Ally Carter
"Seemed like a good idea at the time."
"Oh. Yeah. Obviously. Just so we're clear, this master plan of yours..."
"Might have a couple kinks to work through," Hale admitted, then reached for her hand. As soon as he touched her, Kat knew there was no such thing as curses. People make and break their own fortunes-they are the masters of their own fate. And right then Kat wouldn't have changed a thing.
She kissed him, quick and feather soft.
"What was that for?" he asked.
Kat placed her fingers on his face and brought his forehead close to hers, touching as she whispered, "For luck.